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The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE:SMG) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 16% in the last week. In contrast the stock has done reasonably well over three years. After all, the stock has performed better than the market (76%) over that time, over which it gained 91%.
Although Scotts Miracle-Gro has shed US$1.6b from its market cap this week, let's take a look at its longer term fundamental trends and see if they've driven returns.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
During three years of share price growth, Scotts Miracle-Gro achieved compound earnings per share growth of 60% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 24% average annual increase in the share price. So one could reasonably conclude that the market has cooled on the stock.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. This free interactive report on Scotts Miracle-Gro's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Scotts Miracle-Gro the TSR over the last 3 years was 107%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Scotts Miracle-Gro shareholders are down 17% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 20%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 11% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Take risks, for example - Scotts Miracle-Gro has 2 warning signs (and 1 which is significant) we think you should know about.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.